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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. That was Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 and this is of course your regularly genial host John Derbyshire with commentary on the week's news.
I'll start this week's program with the observation that being important and being interesting are independent states of being. A thing can be one, or the other, or both, or neither. So, come to think of it, can a person; but that's not what I'm concerned with here.
Cosmology is really interesting; but, on the scale of human life, really not at all important. Here, to start us, is a contrary case: something that is deeply, intrinsically boring but terrifically important. What is it? Listen and you will know.
CIS is based in Washington, D.C. but they stage events in New York City — and perhaps, for all I know, other cities too — twice a year to spread their message and raise funds. You join twenty or thirty other people in a lecture room at one of the old, comfortable gentlemen's clubs, socialize for half an hour, then a CIS speaker gives a presentation followed by a good lively Q&A. There's finger food and a wine bar.
I like these events. I learn something I didn't know and meet old acquaintances I haven't kept up with as well as I should have.
The house of patriotic immigration reform has many mansions. Here at VDARE.com we have had our differences with CIS, but never to the degree of throwing furniture at each other. Set against the outrages perpetrated by the current administration — wide-open borders, perversions of immigration law, et cetera — our differences look small indeed.
Last night's speaker was a lively and very personable young lady named Elizabeth Jacobs. Her topic was regulation: precisely, to quote the title of her talk as advertised, "Regulation Warfare: The Biden Administration's Agenda and How the Public Can Make a Difference."
I confess I was expecting this to be a snoozer. My friend and occasional VDARE.com contributor Bob Weissberg is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, with many decades of teaching that subject at NYU and the University of Illinois. Bob actually describes himself as, quote, "a recovering academic," end quote.
Bob once told me that the least popular class in all his teaching portfolio, and the class most difficult to ignite any interest in among the students, was the class on Regulation. The topic is, said Bob, just intrinsically boring, but none the less … important.
Ms Jacobs clarified things somewhat, as well as she could in a 45-minute presentation. Congress, she pointed out, does not just pass laws to tell us what we can and cannot do if we want to stay out of jail; it also directs federal agencies to issue rules to more closely define how the laws should be administered, all according to the Administrative Procedure Act that has been with us since the Truman administration.
Those rules can, if I understood the lady correctly, be pretty fluid, and subject to partisan bias. We — well, I — vaguely understand, for example, that an alien can't be lawfully accepted for settlement as a full immigrant if he can't support himself. Sure enough, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS, has a Public Charge Rule to regulate this issue.
What exactly does the rule say, though? By all means look it up and see if you can figure out the answer. I made a good-faith attempt, but my eyes glazed over about four hundred words in.
The Trump administration, Ms Jacobs told us, issued revised rules that were stricter on the Public Charge issue; but of course the Biden people annulled those changes.
It's like that all over immigration law. The law tells us, for example, that persecution on grounds of, quote, "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion," end quote, is necessary for an alien to be granted refugee status. What is included in "particular social group," though? Red-heads? Left-handed people? The law doesn't specify. There are rules, regulations, all vulnerable to political manipulation.
Again, the term "lawfully present" is common in immigration law. What does it actually mean, though? Quote: "A lawfully present alien is any non-U.S. citizen presently permitted by the Department of Homeland Security, one of its agencies, or the Department of Justice to remain in the United States." End quote.
So it's decided by regulation, not really by law. Shouldn't the term really be "regulatorily present"? The so-called DACA recipients broke our laws by coming here. The Obama administration said we're OK with them, though, so they are "lawfully present."
Sorry to go down into the weeds like this. And yes, Bob Weissberg is right: I'm falling asleep just talking about this stuff. In regard to which I should be clear that everything I've said here is my own reading, from my own scribbled notes, of what Elizabeth Jacobs said last night. She is no way responsible for any misunderstandings I may have perpetrated.
What about the second part of the title she gave to her talk? "How can the public make a difference?"
Here I learned something I didn't know at all. There is a website you can go to, regulations.gov, where you can post comments on the entire rule-making process, comments the regulating agencies have to respond to, although in most cases they have sixty days to do so. You can search the website by agency, docket type, date comment posted, and so on.
Pretty nifty. So ordinary citizens can make a difference? Well … before you jump to it, the agencies only have so many employees they can assign to deal with our comments, so the process is easily gamed. On immigration issues, for example, you see a mighty host of comments from AILA. That's the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a powerful and well-funded lobby for … well, for anything that helps make immigration lawyers rich.
Ms Jacobs told us that commenting at regulations.gov is worthwhile none the less. She is a very smart lady who knows her subject in depth, so by all means give it a try.
Thanks to her, and to Mark Krikorian and his colleagues at CIS for a convivial and instructive evening. I'm still not sure that I understand much about the regulatory process, but I know more than I did this time last week.
03 — Swiss, Germans, and Brits. Over in Europe there have been some glimmers of sense on the issue of mass immigration.
Switzerland held a general election last Sunday. Result: a big advance for the Trumpish SVP party, which favors stricter control of immigration — which in fact has a population policy, as every political party everywhere should have but very few do. The SVP's population policy is to keep Switzerland's 8.7 million-strong population below 10 million.
SVP actually placed first in the popular vote with 28 percent. This is a multiparty system, though; no less than ten parties won seats in the Swiss parliament. It's also a complicated system; it's not clear to me how the SVP's triumph will translate into national policy, but they seem hopeful. Quote from the report in the London Guardian, quote:
The leader of the populist, rightwing Swiss People's party (SVP) has promised more pragmatism and [inner quote] "less political correctness" [end inner quote] after it won Sunday's election with an improved vote share of 28 percent.
Across the Alps in Germany, meanwhile, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who usually shows up in news reports prefixed with the epithet "center-left," told his country's parliament on October 19th that Germany needs to start deporting, quote, "on a large scale," end quote, migrants who don't have the right to stay in the country.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz is of course hearing the hoofbeats of AfD, the Alternative for Germany Party, riding to rescue Germany from the immigration catastrophe unleashed by his predecessor Angela Merkel eight years ago. AfD has been polling well recently, at the expense of Scholz's coalition.
As an ex-Brit, I'd like to tell you that there have been similar stirrings of good sense in the U.K. Unfortunately I can't. The place is too far gone.
Just reading about events in the old country makes my blood boil. Here for example was the always-reliable Ed West, writing at his Substack account on Tuesday. The topic is public housing in Britain, although nowadays the euphemism "social housing" is preferred.
An odd thing about housing in London is that some of the nicest, most expensive districts have a lot of social housing scattered among the mansions of the upper-middle-classes.
A much odder thing is that a lot of this social housing in tony, pricey neighborhoods is inhabited by immigrants of the least-desirable kind — front men for Middle Eastern terrorist outfits, for instance.
Many people might be surprised to learn that social housing disproportionately favours people from abroad. Across the UK, 16 per cent of British citizens live in government housing, compared to 17 per cent of foreign nationals; in London, 30 per cent of people born in the Middle East live in government housing, and 40 per cent of sub-Saharan Africans (this rises to close to three-quarters for those born in Somalia).
Ed offers us some lurid examples. Here for example is Muhammad Qassem Sawalha, a leading fundraiser for Hamas — yes, that Hamas. The authorities in Barnet, a very pleasant — and very expensive — borough of northwest London, housed Sawalha in a two-storey house with a garden and garage back in 2003, all at a very modest rent. In 2021 the borough sold him the house at a 26 percent discount on the market value.
Ed West notes that, quote: "It is worth remembering that, in 2008, Barnet had the longest council waiting list in Britain." End quote. In other words there were many, many legacy British hoping to get social housing in the borough, the kind of house that this known terrorist front man had been given.
Mention of being on the waiting list for public housing conjures up one of my earliest memories. It's of Monday, May 24th 1948, ten days short of my third birthday.
I'd spent that first three years of my life living with my parents and sister in some rented rooms in a poor part of Northampton, England. They were on a waiting list for public housing, but prospects of getting it seemed years away.
Title to that house where they were renting belonged to a young man who was killed in the war. When the will was settled, Mum and Dad had to move out. They were in serious peril of becoming homeless.
Britain had acquired a socialist government in 1945, though, and that government had embarked on a big program of building public housing. At the last minute — in May 1948 — our number came up on the waiting list. That day — May 24th 1948 — we moved to a brand-new house in a better neighborhood, rent nineteen shillings a week — less than four dollars.
That was public housing then, for the British working class. If you had told people back then that foreigners could jump the queue for public housing on account of their "need," you'd have been laughed out of the room.
The boss here, Peter Brimelow, is another former Brit of approximately the same age as myself. He once remarked, and still occasionally re-remarks, in reference to Britain's demographic catastrophe, that, quote:
People Should Be Hung From Lampposts, They Should Be Burned Alive, For What They've Done To Britain.
That of course sends Progressives to the fainting couch; but those of us who remember Britain when she was Britain, before the Great Replacement, all agree with him.
We understand, though, that it was suicide, not murder. There is something pitiful, something yielding, in the modern British character that allowed it to happen.
The suicidal impulse is not universal. There's always been some resistance. When it mattered, though, the yielders were always more numerous than the resisters, and won the day.
There was a little tableau illustrating those two parties, yielders and resisters, in this news coverage of Arab protests in London last weekend.
Two young white Englishmen were there counter-protesting. They carried between them a large English flag — that is, the cross of St George in red on a white background; not to be confused with the more complicated Union Jack flag of the U.K.
An officer of the Metropolitan Police — another young white Englishman — confronted and warned them against doing or saying anything racist. His assumption must be that legacy English people flaunting an English flag on English soil in England's capital city are hovering on the edge of racism.
There you see them: two resisters and a yielder. The yielder is the one clothed in governmental authority.
04 — Two cheers for Mr Speaker. So what about this new Speaker our House of Representatives has gotten for itself — this chap Mike Johnson?
Personally I didn't lose any sleep over the House not having a Speaker. My reaction to it all was more or less the same as that tweeted out by canceled cartoonist Scott Adams on Monday, tweet:
I'd like to thank [Matt Gaetz] for doing the only useful thing that happened in Congress lately. Since removing the Speaker, Congress has not given away any of my money to people I don't want to have it.
Yep: a few more days with no Speaker would be a few more when the congresscritters were not giving away billions of dollars to foreigners. What's not to like?
That's not a proper attitude for a responsible citizen, though. There is stuff the feds should spend our money on, and the Constitution says that Congress is the authority for them to do so. So hey: Two cheers for the new Speaker.
What kind of congresscritter is he, though? He's a Republican, I see; but is he a Uniparty Republican, or one of that handful that still have a few spinal vertebrae in position?
The first reports I saw were encouraging. This one, from the Twitter handle @RedEaglePatriot, quite swept me off my feet. Tweet:
That's a darned impressive list. I checked a couple of the facts. Yes, he's a NumbersUSA grade A. Yes, he's ranked F by that Ukraine website. Yes, Bill Kristol is seething. Hey: I like the cut of Mike Johnson's jib.
A couple of mild negatives turned up. A person better-informed than I am told me that NumbersUSA congressional rankings are not totally reliable. Then Wikipedia told me Johnson is a Creationist.
I was not much disturbed by either. Maybe Johnson would be an A-minus or a B-plus if the rankings were done accurately. That's still vastly better that the solid ranks of Fs you get for Democrat congresspeople … even if some should be F-plus or E-minus.
As for Creationism: I don't much care. In close engagements during the Evolution Wars twenty years ago, I met some quite smart and pleasant people who were Creationists. Not everybody can engage intellectually with the scientific method.
Then I started to see tweets and get emails about Rep. Johnson's personal life. He's 51, married his wife in 1999, when he would have been 27. He and his wife have four kids: two sons aged 12 and 18, two daughters aged 21 and 23.
They also have an adopted son: a black boy they took in "when they were newlyweds" says his office, in a statement to Newsweek magazine this morning. The adoptee was fourteen years old at the time. That means he's now in his late thirties. We're told he's married with a family of his own and lives in California.
That's been exciting some interest, particularly because this black adoptee has been hitherto invisible. He doesn't appear in the family photographs on Johnson's website or his Facebook page. He wasn't mentioned in Johnson's campaign biographies, either, until that statement issued this morning.
And while Johnson may have an excellent voting record in the House, he's come across in some reports as — to put it as nicely as possible — naive on race issues.
The key evidence here is a 2020 interview with journalist Walter Isaacson for the PBS show Amanpour & Co. You can find the interview on YouTube: just put "amanpour and company mike johnson" in the YouTube search bar. "Amanpour" is A-M-A-N-P-O-U-R.
The interview was done right after George Floyd died. Johnson is totally on board with the evil white cop / helpless black victim narrative. He also speaks warmly about his black adopted son, but qualifies it with, quote:
My son Michael had a harder time than my son Jack is going to have simply because of the color of his skin. And that's a reality. It's an uncomfortable, painful one to acknowledge, but people have to recognize that's a fact.
So, even if not an antiwhite ethnomasochist, definitely not a race realist.
A mixed bag, then. Still, Johnson's good points are all pertinent to his job in Congress; and he's no more of a fantasist on race than the average GOP congressweenie. We could have done worse.
Our present-day Cultural Revolution — perhaps all such upheavals in all times and places — is flagrant who-whomery. My VDARE colleague Steve Sailer has been telling us this for years. Steve actually declares his preferred pronouns to be "who" and "whom."
The who-whom nature of our Cultural Revolution would probably be more widely recognized than it is if our educational system had not degenerated in recent decades. No-one under the age of forty who was raised in Britain or the U.S.A. can distinguish between the nominative and accusative cases of nouns and pronouns. Heaven forfend our children should be subjected to the white-supremacist indignities of English grammar!
These melancholy — and, yes, I'll allow — somewhat geezerish thoughts came to mind while I was reading my New York Post the other day. The actual article I was reading was about tipping. That's "tipping" as in "gratuities"; the extra few dollars you add to a restaurant or other bill in acknowledgment of good service.
The writer here is veteran culture critic Steve Cuozzo, writing in the Post October 26th (25th in the online edition). He's mainly writing about the decline in New York City restaurant service. He doesn't pull his punches. Sample:
It's infuriating when we're forced or urged to gift, quote, "hard-working," end quote, service workers when the service sometimes stinks.
Go get 'em, Steve! I bet you know the difference between nominative and accusative, right?
The heart of Steve's complaint, though, is compulsory tipping. Instead of leaving it up to the diner to decide what gratuity, if any, to add when paying our bill, we now see either mandatory tips added to the total or "suggested tips" urged upon us, usually either 20 or 25 percent.
The tipping rule I learned as a young adult, and which I still cleave to when not coerced otherwise, is fifteen percent for standard service, modified down or up for less-than or better-than standard.
(To be honest, and to simplify the arithmetic, I just divide the bottom line by seven for a standard tip. That works out to a tad more than fourteen percent. Yes, I'm cheap; so sue me.)
Where is the who-whom in all this? Well, Steve Cuozzo, after venting on the issue for several paragraphs, tells us this, quote:
Most infuriating is the attitude of James Mallios, the owner of Amali on 60th Street and Calissa in Water Mill, which are now adding 18 percent to all checks.
Did you catch that? "Loss of the power dynamic": that phrase is right out of the Critical Theory concocted by the Frankfurt School and other mid-20th-century malcontents. Oppressors — in this case restaurant customers — are oppressing oppressed people — i.e. the wait staff.
Critical Theory has now escaped from the philosophers to infect the general population, in this case a midwit restaurant proprietor. Phrases like "loss of the power dynamic" are no longer scholarly theorizing, they are the common currency of ordinary citizens, or at any rate of college graduates in undemanding subjects. They are midwit metaphysics.
I doubt James Mallios could tell you which is which of nominative and accusative, but I'm sure he can discourse at length on who is the "who" and who is the "whom" in every aspect of our … what is it called? … oh, right: "power dynamic."
06 — Are Jews white? As a footnote to that, the Middle East ructions of this past three weeks, and more particularly the attendant protests in the streets of America and other Western nations, have cast a whole new light on the Jew Thing.
Are the Jews collectively a who or a whom? Our own Steve Sailer, posted here at VDARE.com October 13th, calls this, I hope not altogether seriously, "The world-historical question." I can't improve on Steve, so I'll just quote him, quote:
The world-historical question at the moment is whether American Jews — who are, arguably, the single most influential politically mobilizable group in the modern globe — will figure out that Woke anti-white hatred is inherently anti-Semitic. Or will they assume the solution must be tripling down yet again on promoting racist anti-white hatred as the only way to unify the Coalition of the Fringes?
I could see it going both ways. A Jewish friend told me, and I'm sure he was quoting someone or other, that whenever there's a contentious issue being argued in the public forum, you can be sure to find Jews arguing on both sides.
That even applies to issues we might think existential for the Jews themselves. In these recent protests, a Jewish anti-zionist outfit called Jewish Voice for Peace has been out there shrieking along in unison with the antisemitic mob.
All of which just reminds me why I do my best to stay clear of the Jew Thing.
Not that I can altogether resist some of the temptations. On a couple of occasions this past three weeks, meeting a Jewish friend, I have opened the conversation by saying: "You do realise that you're white now, don't you?"
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just this week I've read that:
I'm sorry, but I find this all a bit creepy — the Beatles item of course creepiest of all. Is it for real? Or have I slipped through a crack in the spacetime continuum?
If the latter, can I please get my 1970 body back?
Item: I still can't figure out how seriously I should take Vivek Ramaswamy, but he sure does say some things that are music to my ears.
Ramaswamy told Politico on Monday that he thought it, quote, "a reasonable idea," end quote, for the U.S.A. to leave NATO. He also told them that he is, quote, "open to reevaluating U.S. involvement in the UN," end quote.
Be still, my heart! I think I was a bit more explicit about the U.N. in my 2009 interview with The Economist — something about reducing the site to rubble, plowing it under, and sowing the ground with salt. I'll settle for a salt-free disengagement, though.
But … would the Swamp swallow up Ramaswamy the way it swallowed up … you know, other presidents who, on the campaign trail, said similarly sensible things? Is it worth taking a gamble on?
Item: Lunatics at large. Last Sunday an off-duty airline pilot, riding along in the cockpit of an Alaskan Airlines flight down the West Coast, tried to cut off the plane's fuel in midair. Fortunately crew members subdued him and the plane landed safely. In Oregon state court on Tuesday he pleaded not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder.
This perp told police he'd had a nervous breakdown, amplified by taking a first-time dose of psychedelic mushrooms.
Then on Wednesday evening a different guy, firing a military rifle, killed 18 people and wounded 13 more at a bowling alley in Lewiston, Maine. The perp here, still at large as I speak, is an Army reservist. He'd behaved erratically at a summer training camp, though, and been sent for medical evaluation.
I have my own issues with Red Flag laws; but if there's a case for them, this guy is it.
That aside, these two stories illustrate only the melancholy fact that lunatics live among us; and that while we should of course strive to identify and incarcerate where we can, short of a thoroughly totalitarian assault on our liberties, this will likely always be the case.
[Added when archiving: A listener emailed in with this later correction.
08 — Signoff. That's all, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention, for your emails and donations. Enjoy your Halloween: it may be the last before they cancel it, as one New Jersey school district is already doing.
The Rolling Stones, Cher, the Beatles, … Yeah, yeah. If we're talking about later-20th-century pop music, though, I'm going to unmask myself as an unapologetic Bee Gees fan.
Barry, Robin, and Maurice were as good as it gets; I'll brook no argument. Here is one of their sweetest.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Bee Gees, "First of May."]